Tens of thousands celebrate special Sabbath in Hebron

Throngs of Jewish worshipers were joined by prominent Israeli politicians for a special Sabbath celebration in one of Israel’s four holy cities.

By World Israel News Staff

Around 20,000 visitors arrived in Hebron for a special Sabbath celebration to honor the purchase of the burial plot of the Jewish people’s patriarchs and matriarchs, which is recounted in the portion of the Bible that Jews around the globe read this week.

In addition to throngs of young men and women studying in Israel’s seminaries, the visitors included a number of prominent Israeli politicians, including Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Other Israeli politicians in attendance included Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who was recently eliminated from the Jerusalem mayoral race, Knesset member Gila Gamliel, who serves as Minister for Social Equality, and Deputy Minister of Defense Eli Ben-Dahan.

Visitors found lodging where they could, from seminary dorm rooms in Kiryat Arba to giant tents next to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, with many invited to spend the Sabbath as guests of Jewish families that live in Hebron.

The Sabbath celebrations provided an opportunity to pray at the burial sites of key Biblical figures, including Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, which remained open to  Jewish worshipers throughout the entire Sabbath.

In addition, tours of Hebron’s Jewish quarter were also provided.

Commenting on the ongoing efforts to develop the Jewish quarter of Hebron, Elkin noted, “We don’t need to settle for developing Jewish historical sites alone in Hebron.”

“Hebron is not only a glorious heritage site, it is a place suitable for large-scale Jewish settlement [today], which serves as a link in the chain of Jewish history in Hebron,” he added.

New construction

In October, the Israeli government approved funding for a major new construction project in Hebron, including a budget of around $6 million for a 31-unit housing complex. The project represents the first approved construction in 16 years.

At the time, the move was hailed by community leaders such as Yishai Fleisher, in addition to national figures such as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who called the decision an “important milestone.”

In the past, members of Hebron’s Jewish community have been subject to terror attacks by Arab neighbors and harassment from European “monitors,” who in the past year have been caught vandalizing Jewish property and assaulting a 10-year-old Israeli child.